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Venice in a Bottle

An unusual gallery space and shop in Italy offering a modernized version of the humble souvenir

by Paolo Ferrarini
on 18 September 2014

Venice, Italy is a truly iconic city and, even though it's a multi-faceted place, it's oftentimes portrayed as a little stereotyped or clichéd—all gondolas and glass. In an effort to show the city's ever-evolving identity and culture, a group of talented young art consultants has re-imagined one of Venice’s most classic souvenirs with a contemporary and artistic twist—and all of it occurs at Venice in a Bottle.


Venice in a Bottle is part place, part art project and part object. The space is a "project room"—essentially a small art gallery that doubles as a souvenir shop where visitors can enjoy exhibitions by young artists who work with glass, as well as purchase PET bottles full of colorful glass powder (a kind of grit produced during the processing of glass that cannot be reused) or stunning cotisso, irregular yet fascinating glass rocks. All these glass products simultaneously pay homage to Venice's (and, perhaps Italy as a whole) traditions, while modernizing them.

Glass captures the essence of Venice, its light and its inexhaustible beauty.

Francesca Giubilei—along with Luca Berta, Francesco Misserotti and Silvano Rubino—co-founded Venice Art Factory, the team behind Venice in a Bottle and many other local exhibitions and events. Giubilei believes that, while some may view it as kitsch, glass is still important to the city—as is the art's evolution. "Glass captures the essence of Venice, its light and its inexhaustible beauty. Encouraging artists to experiment with this material is to give a chance to the craftsmanship of Murano to go beyond the reproduction of artistic forms inherited from the past," she says. "We like everything that may fall under the definition of post-media art—the artistic research that gives a conceptual value to objects. We like to contaminate high culture with the low, from [Jacques] Derrida to Google."


Giubilei says the project was a way to turn a failure into an opportunity. "The project started at the beginning of 2014 when my partner Luca Berta and I suddenly lost our jobs. We decided not to waste our network of international relationships with designers, artists and architects, as well as technical skills in the field of glass production and the organization of exhibitions." She continues, "We have tried to define something new for the Venetian panorama. So when artists or designers want to create something with glass, we put them in contact with the craftsman more suitable for the purpose—so that the project is built with the highest quality and the lowest cost." The upshot is not only for the makers, but for the visitors who are offered the chance to see the works, and also take them home as a very special keepsake.

Images by Paolo Ferrarini

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